Analysis essay instruction
purpose of this assignment is to help you achieve the following course learning
speak and write critically about a few of
the most important American documentaries;critically evaluate documentary films;articulate the historical and social forces
out of which filmmakers have created documentaries and upon which the films
Understanding a documentary film requires not only a comprehension of its
overall themes, techniques, and ideology, but how each element contributes to
the whole. As a way of practicing your analytic skills on a smaller (but no
less important) scale, you will choose and critically Analyze one scene
from Academy Award winner Michael Moore’s film, Where to Invade Next (2015).
You can find this film in YouTube. Or if you can find other place to watch
will be fine, just make sure you will need to watch the entire film at least
once (it is about 120 minutes long) and your chosen scene several times to
notice different aspects of the scene and to take good notes.
analysis of about 900 words (no fewer than 800, no more than 1000, according to
the word count tool in Microsoft Word), respond, in the form of a
thesis-driven essay (not individual answers and not necessarily in
this order), to the following questions:
scene of a documentary film is like a paragraph in a written paper: it presents
one main idea that helps support the main idea or argument of the entire film.
What is the main idea or purpose of your chosen scene? How do you know?What
sights and sounds does Moore present in the scene? How do they convey the main
idea of the scene?What
filmmaking techniques (camera movement, focus, narration, music and other
sound, mise-en-scène, etc.?) do you notice, and how do they contribute (or fail
to contribute) to the overall film?
I will be
looking for analysis of specific elements of your chosen scene, connected to
how those elements contribute to the scene’s purpose. Consider things
like camera angles, lighting, editing of shots, and sound.
What is a
scene? In A Short Guide to Writing about Film*,
Timothy J. Corrigan defines a scene this way: “A space within which a
narrative action takes place; it is composed of one or more shots.”
Wikipedia defines a scene as “a part of the action in a single
location.” A scene is sometimes harder to identify in a documentary
than in a feature (fictional) film because the structure is typically not
a “story” in the way we are used to in feature films, but the idea is
essentially the same. Sometimes it is clear when a film shifts from one
scene to another, such as when a cut takes us to a totally different time and
place in the film. At other times, however, what constitutes a scene is
less clear and becomes a matter of judgment. In a documentary film, which
is built around ideas, a shift from one idea or point to another might
constitute a scene change.
*If you want support for writing about film,
I recommend this text: Corrigan, Timothy. A Short Guide to Writing
about Film, 8th ed. Pearson, 2012.
your reader (your audience) to be a smart person who has seen the film but is
not an expert on it. You do not need to describe everything in the scene.
Instead, say just enough about the scene so your reader knows which scene you are
of your paper should be analysis, not description.
should mention the title of the film in your opening paragraph so your reader
knows which film you are discussing.
read two good examples of scene analyseshere
. Notice how the
authors tie specific, formal elements of the scene to the meaning that they
paper must be a Microsoft Word document and must follow MLA style.
not need a Works Cited page because you need not cite external sources.
This is an analytical essay, not a research paper.
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